Walk a Mile in Their ShoesReports
Overview of AbilityPath’s Report and Guide to Bullying and Special Needs
Julia Nimir, a young woman with Down syndrome and subject of the documentary “Walking in my Shoes,” was bullied most of her life. She shared through her personal experience that the most important thing in ending the bullying of a child with special needs is “having people learn to walk a mile in their shoes.”
The journey addressing the issue of bullying and children with special needs began when AbilityPath identified the need to provide information to parents who all too often struggle with finding ways to help their child with bullying. Over the course of several months, AbilityPath interviewed experts, educators and parents regarding this escalating issue facing children with special needs. It became apparent that the demographic most vulnerable to bullying also had the fewest resources.
A voice for these families is missing from the national dialogue. This report and guide is an effort to make that voice heard. These children and parents are desperate for resources, advocates and awareness so the physical and emotional toll their children experience may be prevented. They need their children’s classmates, teachers, and communities to “walk a mile in their shoes.”
AbilityPath, an online hub and information resource for parents of children with special needs, provides over 90 years of experience serving individuals with disabilities through the nonprofit that created it, Community Gatepath. Their staff and network of doctors, therapists and early childhood specialists are experts in serving the needs of adults and children with disabilities. However, it was realized that very few in their industries are experts when it comes to bullying and the child with special needs.
In recognizing the need for this critical issue to be addressed, AbilityPath created this report and guide to achieve the following:
- Educate all parents on the issue. Both parents and experts shared with AbilityPath the limited information that is available specific to the issues faced by children with special needs.
- Empower parents and educators to take action and apply meaningful changes in the classroom and these children’s lives by providing educational as well as legal options in an effort to prevent and/or fight back against bullies.
- Assist policy makers, school administrators and professionals in a team effort to ensure that this issue is at the forefront in the public arena when bullying is discussed, researched or legislated. It is clear that the U.S. is nearly a decade behind other nations when implementing, legislating or researching policies regarding bullying and children with special needs.